Friday, March 21, 2008

Basketball and Life- It's All the Same Game!

March is one of my favorite times of the year – the trees are blooming, the air is warming and the balls are bouncing – the basketballs that is! March is NCAA tournament time! I’m from Indiana and if there’s one thing we Hoosiers love, it’s basketball! We’re taught to love it from any early age, just like we’re taught to read and write. I’ll never forget that night in 1987 when the IU Hoosiers won the final game. I was a senior at a smaller university in Southern Indiana and a friend and I were passionately cheering the team on to victory as the last snow of the year bucketed down outside. When the final buzzer rang, declaring the Hoosiers, the champions, my friend and I wanted nothing more than to run out to our car and drive straight to Bloomington to join in the celebration. But we both remembered what our mothers would say as we looked out at the six inches-and-growing snowfall outside and decided to stay put. We celebrated right where we were – all night long. We loved basketball. We loved our Hoosiers. And we were happy!!

I moved away from Indiana over twenty years ago, but Hoosier Hysteria is still part of who I am. And when March approaches, I anxiously look forward to watching a plethora of great ballgames. I love the squeak of the shoes on the hardwood. I love the hurried talk of the announcer as the ball goes inside. I love the long roar of the crowd when a three pointer is hit. But what I really love is watching a well-coached team work together like one brain with five pair of shoes. Each one of the five players know their role. Each one of the players know what to do and where to go when a play is called and they know what to do when the defense responds in certain ways – set a pick, kick outside for the three, pass into the paint, alley-oop over the middle. To me, watching a good basketball team is a watching a thing of beauty.

As a sat down today to watch the first round of the tournament, I realized for the first time how much a basketball game is like life, more particularly, the life of my family. I have a great family – a supportive, loving husband and three kids who are not only incredible people now, but who I know will grow into incredible adults. And then there’s me – wife and mother – roles I take very seriously and work harder at than any “paying” job I’ve ever had.

Just like a basketball team is on a mission to win a game – my family is on a mission to win also. But our goal isn’t to win a game, it’s to win at life. Now, of course my family isn’t out to “beat” anyone else. To us, winning at life means enjoying life, making the most of it, living it and loving it to the greatest of our abilities. We go about “playing” our “game” in many ways similar to the way a basketball team goes about playing their game – we work hard to understand our teammates’ strengths and weaknesses. We’re there to pick our “player” up when they fall. We delight in our successes together and cry together when we suffer a loss. We work together as a team, accepting that the game is not just about us, but about our team. We know we can’t always take every shot, but need to pass the ball off sometimes – we know that we can’t always have our own way or do, and have, everything we want, but that we have to make sacrifices for the success of the team – our family.

And just as a basketball team has an opponent who tries to keep it from its goal of winning the game, I feel like my family has opponents who try to keep us from winning at ours’ – the media tries to tell my children what they should be doing or wearing. Classmates try to tell them that it isn’t cool to be so close to their family. People without the same morals as us try to sway us from doing what we know is right.

Every day is a new game and every day we face new opponents. But our team is strong – we huddle up and remind each other about how we play our game and what our ultimate goal is. We don’t hold grudges or get angry when one of our players misses a shot – that is, get’s a little off track. We’re there to pick that player up, give him some encouragement, and tell him to get back out there and give it another try. We are a team. We are strong. We know what our goal is! We will win. We will be victorious! We will do the dance of celebration together! We are family!!!!!

And one more thing … GO UNC!!!

Sonya May, President, Choose JOy, Inc

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Chocolate - The 5th Food Group

I love chocolate. It’s as simple as that. I love it pretty much any way it comes – in cakes, in cookies, in milk, in brownies, out of my children’s Halloween candy bags after they’ve gone to bed at night. To me, chocolate is pretty much the best thing ever created. If I could, I’d eat chocolate for every meal of the day as well as morning and afternoon snacks. And, of course, I’d eat it for dessert! But I don’t. Why don’t I? Why don’t I eat chocolate instead of anything else? I certainly like it more than anything else. And I feel happier when I’m eating chocolate that when I’m eating anything else. So why don’t I eat exclusively chocolate and nothing else?

Of course we all know that answer to that one – actually there are many reasons that I don’t eat exclusively chocolate even though I would like to:
· We all know about the food pyramid and last time I looked, chocolate wasn’t on it. There’s fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and so on and so on. But no chocolate.
· If I ate only chocolate, I’d probably balloon up in size until I was bigger than the state of Montana.
· My health would suffer. As much as I would like to ignore the facts, I definitely remember learning in junior high about the need for vitamins and minerals in order to promote healthy living.
· What would I do about feeding my kids? While I’m sure that they would love to eat chocolate right along side of me, I wouldn’t dare think of feeding only chocolate to them. I’m their mother and I’m supposed to be looking out for them.

Basically, I don’t eat only chocolate because the fact is, it’s not good for me. Agghh! I hate that fact! But yet that’s the plain and simple truth. Everyday, I make a choice to eat the foods that I know are healthy so that I can live a healthy life. That’s not to say that I don’t throw a bit of chocolate in their every now and then, but my diet is mostly dictated by our good friend, the food pyramid. Every day I make a choice about what I eat based on the type of life I want to life. I want to live a healthy life so I eat healthy foods.

The daily choices I make aren’t reserved exclusively for the type of food I eat, though. I make a multitude of choices every day that have to do with a lot more than just food. I make choices in how I speak to my children. I make choices about what kind of friend I am. I make choices about either holding a grudge or forgiving. I make a choice whether or not I kiss my husband when he leaves for work in the morning. Choices are before me every second of everyday. I make a choice about whether to buy the name brand purse. I make a choice about whether to watch TV or play a game with my kids. I make a choice about returning the five dollar bill someone dropped or slipping it into my pocket.

When I know that I want to live a healthy life, I make the choice to eat primarily healthy foods. When I know that I want to be a patient loving mother, I make the choice to speak to my children in a patient, loving way. When I know that I want to be an honest person, I speak and do the honest thing, even when no one is watching. The choices we make must support the life we want to live, for it is the choices we make that give us the life we live. Now granted, we can’t always make the perfect choices all of the time. We lose our temper and speak to our kids in a harsh tone. We want to be a little frivolous and splurge on the expensive dress. We’re grouchy with our husband, so we don’t kiss him when he heads out the door. I want to indulge in my biggest weakness so I eat some chocolate.

The beautiful thing about choices is that there is always another one waiting to be made. When I indulge in chocolate, I make the choice to not get frustrated with myself and condemn my life to one of being unhealthy. I know that the next thing I eat will be a healthy choice. After all, I say that I want to live a healthy life, so after an unhealthy choice, I need to make a healthy choice. Perhaps in addition to eating a healthy choice, I’ll increase my exercise.

Let’s say that I was grouchy with my husband and didn’t kiss him as he headed out the door. The next second holds a new choice for me. I can call him and apologize for being grouchy and kiss him twice when he returns home. Every second is an opportunity to make a new choice. And the choices you make should reflect the life you want to live. Make the choices to give you the life you want to live. As for me, I’m off to eat a bit of chocolate followed by a nice long walk!

Sonya May
President, Choose Joy, Inc